OP village president kicks off community forums Aug. 28

Anan Abu-Taleb, Trustee Bob Tucker to address residents

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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

Oak Park Village President Anan Abu-Taleb will check off another campaign promise at the end of the month when he hosts his first community forum.

Abu-Taleb, who has stressed the importance of transparency and opening dialogue between the village and residents, will host a discussion at the Oak Park Public Library from 7-8:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 28. He will be joined by Village Trustee Bob Tucker to answer questions from the audience.

An announcement about the forum was sent out via email Thursday morning from a friend of the village president. The notice was not sent out through the village because the forum is hosted by Abu-Taleb and is designed to be an informal discussion.

The purpose is to allow people the opportunity to share their thoughts, concerns and ideas so that village leaders can better understand what's on the mind of taxpayers. Abu-Taleb has said from the start of his campaign that communication between residents and the village is often viewed as one-way, and he's hoping to change that public perception.

"It's really a listening session," Abu-Taleb said. "It's a much more informal way of hearing what the residents want to say. That way we can take the conversations to the board and keep those conversations moving forward."

Abu-Taleb said he's heard — prior to, during and after his campaign — that people are frustrated with how the village is run. His hope is that people realize it's time to ban together and get the conversations going.

"I want people to understand it takes all of us to make it work. It takes the community to be engaged. It takes the board members to listen. It takes us to be innovative. It takes us to think outside the box," Abu-Taleb said. "The idea is how to cultivate good ideas and learn how to focus on a couple of issue and how to move the town forward."

One factor that motivated Abu-Taleb to run for village president was his frustration watching from the outside as decisions were made by village officials. Now that he's on the inside, he hopes to set a new tone.

"I want [the forum] to be effective. I am going to try to make it a good medium for us to cultivate ideas," he said. "The message to get across is that we're here to serve the community and we're here to listen to what they have to say. … I'm counting on this session to be a really good tool to stay in touch with the community."

Tucker often spends time going door to door to reach out to residents to see if they have questions or concerns. This forum, however, will allow Oak Parkers to join in a more casual setting than village hall allows in order to share their thoughts.

"If you wait for people to come to village hall, you're not getting the full picture," Tucker said.

The secret to making these forums effective, he said, is "if Anan and I do a lot more listening than talking."

At village board meetings, there isn't much time beyond 3-minute public comments to the board. This forum will eliminate that barrier and increase the chance for dialogue with the village president and a trustee.

"This can be more of an exchange," Tucker stressed. But it also means finding a happy medium between letting residents share and keeping control of the forum. "We need to have some kind of structure — to not get off into the weeds. … I think it's going to be incumbent on us to maintain focus."

Tucker hopes residents bring whatever concerns they have to these forums, but he also would like to see residents address "big picture" items that relate to policy decisions since that is the primary purpose of the village board.

While Tucker will accompany the village president at this forum, Abu-Taleb hopes to bring in other trustees, members from another taxing body or possibly business leaders or members from an outside community to help keep the conversations going.

At this point, the forums are designed to be a town-hall-style meeting with no specific guidelines, but that could evolve as meetings progress. The next meeting will be held Oct. 8 at the Maze branch of the Oak Park Public Library.

Contact:
Email: anna@oakpark.com Twitter: @AnnaLothson

Reader Comments

18 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

Barbara Moline from Oak Park  

Posted: August 27th, 2013 6:11 PM

Let's "ban together..." there must be something to ban!

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 20th, 2013 7:24 PM

I assume any trustee(s) could have a forum. I think that a conversation with the residents and business community regularly is a good thing; irrespective of whom conducts it.. Why wait for election?

June from Oak Park  

Posted: August 20th, 2013 3:39 PM

I'm looking forward to this; I just hope I can find parking

SE Oak Parker from Oak Park  

Posted: August 18th, 2013 9:10 PM

This is a great idea, and I'm glad they are doing it. "Confused" sure is confused! What is possibly wrong with our elected officials taking the time to come out to talk with residents?

Confused from Oak Park  

Posted: August 18th, 2013 5:27 PM

How can this be a village board listening session when its not sponsored by the village and all trustees aren't included? Exactly which campaign promises have been kept? And why did the President have his friend send the invite to the press? This is all rather bizarre.

Karen Rafter from Oak Park  

Posted: August 18th, 2013 12:56 PM

Are there restrictions on backyard fireplaces and chimineas? Some go all night without being doused and send choking smoke into windows as we try to sleep, so we cough and our eyes water. It has the same result as burning leaves and garbage, which are both illegal in the village. I'm not suggesting we outlaw the fireplaces, just remind people to douse the flames when they are done. If we have such a bad reaction to the smoke, I fear for those with respiratory problems. It is also a fire hazard.

OP Rez  

Posted: August 17th, 2013 2:28 PM

I hope the issue of crime in the village will be addressed, as it didn't seem like a concern during Anan's campaign. One suggestion would be to install subtle "speed cameras" along major arteries like, Chicago, Division, Lake, Washington, Madison etc... which would also serve to I.D. cars and people going in and out of the village.

Cdonovan2  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 12:23 PM

How about repeal of the new commercial sign ordinance that finds hundreds of businesses needing to comply by next year? Sure, a sign that is dangerous or for a vacant store, they should come into compliance. Amend the existing ordinance to "grandfather" in exist signs. I don't own a business, but the costs of compliance was not adequately discussed when the ordinance was past and are the kind of things driving businesses out of Oak Park.

Sherry C from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 12:21 PM

This is a great idea. I'm glad they are doing this. I'm also happy to see our elected officials working together!

OP resident from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 12:11 PM

Cut the time and obstacles to getting individual and business permits. Coordination and common sense within areas, not corner cutting, is all that is required. Growing OP's economy and improving the community should not be activity done IN SPITE OF village hall, but with SUPPORT of folks entrusted with governance. Right now, citizens go around the process when possible, and businesses go elsewhere...where the mayor, building inspector, business leads and fire chiefs work together to serve.

joan haman from oak park  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 11:58 AM

Dead branch pick up in 700 block North Taylor. Weeks since it fell. 700 + 800 Hays- street in deplorable condition.Whip lash while going or coming from Anderson.There are so many bad streets. Gives a poor impression of Oak Park.

joe from south oak park  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 11:24 AM

Chris - Here is a link that should answer some of your questions and clarify some misconceptions. http://www.illinoissenatedemocrats.com/index.php/caucus-news/blog-archive/3589-concealed-carry-frequently-asked-questions

Funny  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 9:51 AM

"can u trim my tree in front of my house" LOL

Alt.progress from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 8:48 AM

I think about the box all the time. But I would encourage "together" not ban it.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 11:13 PM

Are there any plans for a live broadcast of this forum via TV6?

Jennifer from Oak Park  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 6:50 PM

I think I already have a couple questions for them!

Jennifer from Oak Park  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 6:47 PM

I applaud Anan and Tucker for doing this. These conversations can be good for everyone. I think I already have a cou

Chris from Oak Park  

Posted: August 15th, 2013 6:28 PM

How will the state of Illinois' new conceal-carry law affect the residents and businesses of Oak Park? The new law includes a requirement that a private property owner (business or home) must post a sign if they want to prohibit weapons on premises.

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